This week Tony Blair attacked the media for acting like a "feral beast", hunting in packs and tearing people and their reputations to bits.

I have some sympathy with his comments, not because I believe politicians deserve protection, but because of the way the press has debased proper debate and tried to pull down institutions such as the Royal Family.

But I suspect few will agree that the man who hired Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson was more spinned against than spinning.

The Government is about to try and persuade us that the forthcoming EU treaty isn't remotely the same as the previous proposed constitution, so the referendum which they promised needn't be held after all.

It's obvious what they're up to. As the German Chancellor explained in a leaked letter, the plan is "to use different terminology without changing the legal substance" while making a number of "presentational changes."

Of course it isn't only national politicians who spin.

Last year, our local Strategic Health Authority published, "Fit for the Future", promising "better, more accessible services close to people's home to make it easier and quicker for them to get the care they need."

What the glossy colour document didn't say was that this was code for plans, under consideration for months, to downgrade or even close altogether our local hospitals.

Last week, the Governor of Ford Prison claimed triumphantly that security at the institution had been given the highest mark of any local prison. This was an "excellent result" and the public were "uniquely protected".

Yet prisoners continue to abscond from Ford at the rate of two a week. You couldn't make it up.

President Bush may have had his watch removed by an Albanian trickster this week, but too often, I'm afraid, government is trying the same con on the British public.

Michelle Taylor